healing, personal advocacy

What’s in a name?

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Ten years ago I lost my closest girlfriend to cancer. It was five years of battling and fighting every step of the way. The bone aching grief when she finally left was just excruciating. After her funeral, I crawled into the shower fully clothed and sat there with the water pouring over me as my heart broke over the loss and the finality of it all. I am sure my husband thought I had completely cracked. The tough girl he knew, who dealt with other people’s crap, seriously difficult people and situations on a daily basis, was soggy, sitting on her arse, ugly crying and totally helpless. He turned the water off, pulled me out of the watery mess and so began the way forward dealing with this loss, and finding a way to live without her big personality, it became a “journey of days”, (JoD).

At first, JoD was just for me. It was the odd drawing or quiet time just sitting and thinking. But when I experienced significant trauma across 2011 – 2014 and developed PTSD, it became a way of life and a new way of being. JoD is more than a metaphor for me, it is my method for working through the complexity of my trauma and dealing with PTSD.

I am anonymous deliberately. Only two people know my real name.Trust has never been easy for me but since 2014, trusting again is very difficult. I am very careful about who I let in to know me. Stigma and persecution are still a real and imminent threat for me. Anonymity is protection. I have lost friends, even forever friends, who just couldn’t be there for me anymore. I don’t analyse that now, just accept that it has happened, (bridge crossed”). Some of you reading this have personal experience with stigma too and you know the minute others become aware of your “situation”, they can use it against you.

JoD brings together characteristics of a journey, not measured in physical travel, although sometimes this part of it.  Some of it is the passing of time and the changes that happen day-to-day. Parts of JoD transcend the construct of days and time. It is moving from one state of understanding and knowledge to another.  For me, dealing with PTSD and the PTS injuries is more than dealing with the physical and mental health impact. It is a spiritual journey as well. Hence the time construct doesn’t work too well as a method of accounting, (in saecula saeculorum). I am no philosopher and for a person who earns her keep by writing and speaking coherently, writing and speaking about #thisjourneyofdays is not served by the regular logic and language.

So what happens on #thisjourneyofdays? It is a transition from barely living, bedridden and depressive to embracing, maybe not entirely enthusiastically, this new reality. #Thisjourneyofdays includes new practices in mediation, prayer, writing a journal, writing poetry, some drawing and painting, exercise and planning each day. The formula, meditate – ink –  pray is kind of like my own version of Eat, Pray, Love. I try to take one step at a time and I use the practices to explain, make sense of the PTSD effects on me and how I understand, then deal with them. JoD is not a  definitive answer to meeting the PTSD challenges. There are really, really, really crappy days, the difference is that there is a formula to a formula, to build up again as I am #workingthruit on #thisjourneyofdays.


“wood for trees”
(pencil, watercolour and clay on paper)


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